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Full text of "Verdict On India"

22                                        VERDICT OX INDIA
the scream of the kites.. .all these lovely flowers, trim beds o£
scarlet crotons. sheets of zinnias four feet high.. .all these Holly-
wood crowds, hundreds of little Sabus sprawling naked on the
pavements, long chains of girls carrying everything on their heads
but the kitchen stove...how could one be bored in one's first
Indian city ?
Glancing back through the window of the car I thought I
guessed the answer. We were speeding up the slope of the Vice-
roy's drive and for the first time it was possible to see New Delhi
as a whole* There it lay, far flung, spacious, spick and span, like
a sort of Oriental Washington, coloured terracotta instead of
white* There it lay, and it was all very imposing and eminently
respectable; and it was about as Indian as Shepherd's Bush.
TJiat was why I had been bored by our first Indian City, because
in spite of the aforesaid crowds, whom it dwarfed and over-
shadowed, it was not an Indian City at all. It was alien, it had
never taken root. It had less real life than the ghost-ridden, ruins
of the seven Delhis of the past, stretching all around it in the
dusty plains. For at least, in those rums, the ghosts were Indian* v
They6 belonged.'
New Delhi suggested a British matron in fancy dress. It tried,
most painfully, to speak the native language, but the accent
remained the accent of South Kensington. Sir Edwin Lutyens,
who was largely responsible for it, had obviously made the most
strenuous efforts to please, balancing a facade of Hindu pillars
with a Moslem dome, offsetting a Saracenic arch with a decoration
that might have come from a Hoysala temple, as though to say
'See how impartial I am!"óbut he had ended by pleasing no-
body. The result was a sort of architectural Esperanto; and
Esperanto is not a language in which men make love, or soldiers
sing to battle, or builders dream great dreams.
If New Delhi had been coldly and consciously British, like the
lovely Colonial buildings in Calcutta or the graceful old residencies
of the interior, with their white colonnades and spacious verandas,
the result would have been happier. As though we had said:
'Here we are. whether you like us or not; we are not in the least
ashamed of ourselves. We represent an era of history which we
have written ourselves; we have no desire to rewrite it*'